SNP suspends councillors over Smith report burning

Brian Lawson, Will Mylet and Mags MacLaren burn the report. Picture: YouTube

Brian Lawson, Will Mylet and Mags MacLaren burn the report. Picture: YouTube

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THE SNP has suspended a group of councillors who filmed themselves burning a copy of the Smith Commission report on more powers for the Scottish Parliament.

Renfrewshire councillors Brian Lawson, a former council leader, Will Mylet, and Mags and Kenny MacLaren now face the party’s internal disciplinary procedures over the gesture.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon branded their actions ­“unacceptable”.

She said: “Levels of engagement in politics have never been higher and the passionate argument and debate which characterised the referendum has been inspiring.

“Many people are disappointed with the result of the referendum and the level of devolution recommended by the Smith Commission; however, Scotland will only make progress if we debate our views openly and with respect.

“It is essential that in that debate, conduct does not fall short of the high standard that is rightly expected by the public. My clear view is that setting fire to something because you don’t agree with it is not acceptable behaviour.”

SNP national secretary Patrick Grady said he has now written to the party’s disciplinary committee, making a complaint against the four.

He said: “The four will be suspended from the party until that complaint is heard.”

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Labour’s interim leader Anas Sarwar last night called on Ms Sturgeon to apologise to Lord Smith and for the offence caused.

He also raised concerns that Mags MacLaren works for Scottish Government minister Derek MacKay, while her husband, Kenny MacLaren, who filmed the incident, works for SNP MSP Stuart McMillan.

“I ask you to set out what actions you believe they should take so that they do not fall foul of their clear responsibilities as set out in the MSPs’ code of conduct,” Mr Sarwar said in a letter to Ms Sturgeon.

“This is an opportunity for you to use your office of First Minister, not just leader of the SNP, to go some way down the road of unifying the country. I very much hope you will take that opportunity.”

Lord Smith laughed off the incident as he appeared before MPs at Westminster.

“I’m the chair of the Green Investment Bank – I’d rather they had recycled it,” he told the Scottish affairs select committee.

The group posted a video on YouTube of them setting fire to a copy of the report above a bin, as Mr Mylet said: “The Smith Commission report – this is exactly what we think about it.”

The SNP had two representatives on the Smith Commission, set up to look at how to enhance the current devolved settlement, including Deputy First Minister John Swinney, and signed up to the final report.

The report hands Holyrood power over income tax rates and bands, as well as air passenger duty and some welfare controls.

Nationalist leaders have said they believe the report does not go far enough, but they have welcomed new powers that should come to Scotland.

SEE ALSO

SNP councillors burn Smith Commission report

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